Insight News

Friday
Dec 19th

American Family: A contemporary look at Black identity

American Family: A contemporary look at Black identity


Park Square Theatre presents American Family, a world premiere commission, produced in association with Carlyle Brown & Company, now through April 7.

Set in Alabama, in 1964, the play opens on the playground where Mary Ellen Collins last saw her mother. At just nine years old, Mary Ellen had been taken away by her long-absent father after her mother was deemed unfit for marrying a Black man. Now a young adult, Mary Ellen has finally read the letters her mother sent to her over the years since that terrible separation. From those letters, she learns about her half-brother, born after she was taken away, and reaches out to meet him for the first time. Sharing their stories, brother and sister begin to heal from the past, with the hope that the family comes back together.


The idea for this commission bubbled up after Park Square’s production of Othello in 2009. James A. Williams, who was Othello and is featured as the grandfather in American Family, was working with Carlyle Brown in preparation for his role, directed by Richard Cook.

“Richard Cook has been extraordinary,” says Brown. “He has given me great artistic freedom.  It has truly been a collaborative venture, allowing me to bring into the process a constellation of artists that comprise Carlyle Brown & Company, to play roles written with them in mind.”

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Snow White saves Prince in refreshing overhaul of beloved classic

 Snow White saves Prince in refreshing overhaul of beloved classic

Everybody knows that the story of Snow White is about an expiring damsel-in distress who’s ultimately revived by a handsome Prince’s kiss on the lips. But the world has changed considerably since the Grimm Brothers first published the fairytale in 1812, so why not tweak it a tad to reflect 21st Century sensibilities?

That is ostensibly the idea behind Mirror Mirror, a novel overhaul of the original into a female empowerment flick featuring a spunky heroine capable of saving herself rather than having to rely on a knight in shining armor. Directed by Punjab-born Tarsem Singh, this incarnation even includes a Bollywood dance number during the closing credits.

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Jasmine in bloom

Jasmine in bloom


Jasmine Guy
The “October Baby” Interview

Born in Boston on March 10, 1962, Jasmine Guy is a Renaissance woman with dancer, actress, singer, director, and writer on her resume. She performed in the Broadway productions of The Wiz, Leader of the Pack, Grease, and Chicago, and she has also served as a stage director and choreographer on numerous occasions.        

Still, the versatile entertainer remains best known for her work in television, especially for creating the iconic character Whitley Gilbert on A Different World. Her other TV credits include recurring roles on The Vampire Diaries, Fame, Touched by an Angel, Melrose Place and Dead Like Me. 

 On the big screen, Jasmine appeared in such movies as School Daze, Harlem Nights and Stomp the Yard 2. She is the author of Evolution of a Revolutionary, a book about the life and journey of Afeni Shakur, and she released an eponymous record album on Warner Brothers Records in 1990. 

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DeRay Vision

DeRay Vision

DeRay Davis: The “21 Jump Street” Interview

A born hustler from Chicago’s South Side, DeRay Davis began his career on the comedy club circuit and was first noticed by Hollywood while onstage at Atlanta’s Laffapalooza Festival. Shortly after moving to LA, he won the Comedy Central Laugh Riots Competition and was subsequently a standout on the Cedric the Entertainer Tour and at the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival.

DeRay’s film credits include Jumping the Broom, Get Him to the Greek, Semi-Pro, Barbershop, Barbershop 2, Johnson Family Vacation, Old Dogs, Life as We Know It, Imagine That, License to Wed, School for Scoundrels and Scary Movie 4. And on the small screen, he has appeared in HBO's Entourage, Comedy Central's Reno 911, Comedy Central Presents DeRay Davis, Comedy Central's Premium Blend and BET's ComicView, along with doing various voices on The Boondocks.

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Lessons from Life Bible: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter

Lessons from Life Bible: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter

Lessons from Life Bible:
Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter
Foreword by Jonathan Reckford
Zondervan
Hardcover, $39.99
1536 pages
ISBN: 978-0-310-95081-3
   
“Throughout the years of his public life, former President and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Jimmy Carter has lived out a conspicuous faith… [He] has been leading Sunday school classes ever since he was an 18 year-old ensign at the U.S. Naval Academy…
For over 6 decades, he has been examining the Scriptures and teaching classes to adults… [This] Study Bible is designed to… amplify the deeply held convictions of one of the most important and influential voices of our time.”
-- Excerpted from the inside book jacket

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Antiguan visual artist Mark Brown and his "Transformation"

Antiguan visual artist Mark Brown and his


Image Credit to go to MarkBrown.com



Reminiscent to W.E.B. Du Bois' “Souls of Black Folk”, visual artist Mark Brown - through his emotionally-charged and reality-based piece “Transformation” gives tangibility to what most, if not all of us endure on a daily basis.


Steeped in past colonialism and current neo-colonialism, duality is a way of life when dealing with laws that were made to suppress or kill ones' original culture.

In his own words, Mark shares with us what “Transformation” means to him.

NA: We are curious to know the meaning of the painting in your eyes and soul?
MB: “The piece (“Transformation”) is one which lends visibility to dichotomies we all face in life.

My work generally deals with states of being and this is no different.

To be more specific, the piece reflects an unmasking of one's self and situation, the removal of the mask whatever that may be in the life of the viewer.

The work speaks of the divided self-perception of the Black Subject who is experiencing that point where he is removing that which previously has been a weight, in revealing the strong individual who lies beneath, no more to be masked by an identity imposed by the outsider.”

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Review: Tuskegee Love Letters

Review: Tuskegee Love Letters


Tuskegee Love Letters
by Kim Russell
702 Entertainment
Paperback, $8.00
38 pages, Illustrated
ISBN: 978-0-615591544
    
Book Review by Kam Williams

“My father was a pilot with the all-Negro Tuskegee Airmen; my mother a steno-typist… Separated by war and duty, they shared the events of their lives through letters. They wrote about their joys, their dreams and their individual struggles.
Thankfully, each preserved their letters…. This collection is a glimpse of their lives between 1942 and 1956… These letters are my parents’ legacy. They tell about a difficult but wondrous journey filled with obstacles and opportunities… [and] remind us that all young Americans begin their lives with dreams.”
-- Excerpted from the Introduction (pg. 5)

 

If you saw the recent World War II film Red Tails, you were treated to a riveting reenactment of the heroic exploits of the Tuskegee Airmen over the skies of Europe. But a glaring omission from the movie was any mention of the African-American pilots’ pining for their loved ones back in the States.
In fact, the only romance featured in the film revolved around an ill-fated, interracial liaison between an airman and a local girl he met while stationed in Italy. For that reason, a book like Tuskegee Love Letters couldn’t have come along at a more timely moment.
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